Tips for Joining a Writer’s Group
Submitted by: Barbara Joe Williams
If you haven’t joined a writer’s groups yet, don’t think about it anymore…just do it. For most authors who’re serious about the writing craft, a writer’s group will give you the motivation and support needed to further develop your literary skills. You’re likely to meet local authors, aspiring writers, avid readers, professional editors, seasoned photographers, and accomplished publishers willing to share their experiences with you. The benefits are endless and some of the contacts you’ll make will probably last a lifetime. Not only will you feel like you’re a part of a positive organization, but you’ll also grow as a writer if you become an active participant.
While getting together with other like-minded individuals, sharing information, and socializing is important, you should never lose focus of your writing goals. Make sure you maintain a balance between the group and the actual writing process. A good place to find a writing organization is online, libraries, colleges, and bookstores.
Never underestimate the importance of joining a writer’s group and networking with other writers. If you’re interested in improving your writing skills and want the support and accountability of other writers, check out these tips for joining a local or online writing group:
1. Local vs. online group. The first step is to decide how you’d like to spend your time as part of the group. For extroverted writers, I’d suggest that you find a local group to join so that you’ll have direct interaction with members of the organization. For writers who’re more introverted, you might want to join an online group. And it might be advantageous for you to join both if you have the time and willing to make the commitment.
2. Determine your needs. Make sure that the objective of the group meets your needs or objectives as a writer. Are you looking for a group to do critiques or simply a place to share ideas? Do you need a group that’s focused on romance, mystery, or welcome all genres? You have to determine whether or not the group is a fit for you and proceed accordingly.
3. Making a commitment. You shouldn’t join any organization unless you’re willing to make a time commitment. If the group meets once a week, can you handle that? If not, you might be more suited for a group that meets once a month or every other month. Either way, once you join, you should be committed to the organization and at least try to attend all physical meetings.
4. Giving and Receiving. Hopefully, you’re joining the writer’s group to contribute to the organization as well as receive valuable information and make important contacts. The group forum definitely isn’t a place for blatant publicity stunts or one-way information exchanges. Writing groups are as much about giving as getting!
5. Formal vs. informal. Some writing groups are more formal than others and may be incorporated with officers, have strict procedures, guidelines, registration fees, and monthly dues. However, other writing groups may be very informal with an open format. But either way, the group has to have a leader who’s the contact person and guides the development of the organization.
When I co-founded the Tallahassee Authors Network in 2008, it was formed as a means to bring all locally published authors, aspiring writers, and avid readers together in one venue to learn from one another. It was never meant to be a formal organization, a critique group, or a publicity machine, but just a place for members to network and grow together as a unit. After years of being on the road promoting my work, attending conferences, and visiting writing groups, I felt it was time to come home and build a place where all authors (and literary lovers) could feel comfortable.
Since that time, we have established a strong local presence and hosted group book signings at schools, bookstores, the library, and the State Capitol. I believe that I have accomplished more as a part of a group than I could ever accomplish on my own. As a general rule, bookstores are more likely to schedule a group signing than an individual signing because it brings in more patrons. So if you’re looking for a way to improve your writing skills, need feedback as well as support, and you’re ready to commit to an organization, don’t think about it anymore…just do it.